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Do exegesis courses count as language?


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Hi Everybody,

I am going to be starting my M.Div at Fuller Theological Seminary this fall with an eye towards PhD studies. I noticed however that Fuller only offers 1 year of Hebrew and 1 and a quarter year of Greek. They do offer many exegesis courses that use the original languages. I noticed that most of you have 2+ years in greek or Hebrew. Fuller doesn't seem to offer two full years of greek grammar or hebrew grammar. When evaluating applications, do PhD programs count exegesis courses towards language study? Is there another way to gain the full two years of language study?

Fuller does offer Akkadian, Aramaic, and Ugaritic, but not a second year of Hebrew. I find that strange. Is it that Hebrew grammar can be taught completely in 1 year?

Thanks for your help!

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My impression of language study is that, if done at the undergraduate level, it is more spread out. Graduate-level courses tend to be a bit denser and, hence, take less time. For instance, at my former university undergraduate theology program had built into its curriculum 2 years of Greek and 1.5 years of Hebrew. This same university's seminary covers Greek in 1 year and Hebrew in 1 year and teaches to the same level of proficiency as the undergraduate courses. In short, both languages can be covered in a year at an intermediate proficiency (vocabulary down to 10 occurrences for Greek, 20 for Hebrew). The time difference may be explained by the fact that 1) they want to keep their masters-level programs reasonable in length and 2) graduate students are better able to study in-classroom guidance than their undergraduate counterparts. The latter point may be contestable, but I know many of my undergraduate peers would have never gotten Greek or Hebrew down without that extra year or semester.

Fuller is an extremely well-known institution and I doubt you'd have any problems getting into a PhD program with their standard language courses. While exegesis courses wouldn't count as a course of study of the language itself, it would show that you have a high enough proficiency in the language to take an original-language exegesis course.

I would only aim for more advanced level language courses (like Advanced Greek or Advanced Hebrew) if you are going to study OT or NT. Even so, I believe this can be accomplished while in the actual PhD program since every PhD application I have ever seen only asks for intermediate-level proficiency.

I would talk to Fuller's PhD program director to gain further clarity on this while you are there. I don't think you have anything to worry about, though.

Edited by Windfish
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Speak with Fuller about what their introductory year courses cover. I have seen a lot of Divinity/Seminary schools offer a similar 'intensive course,' though I have my doubts of the continuity of such courses between departments. As for Greek, it seems a lot of Divinity schools 'only' need to offer a one year introduction because they are purely aimed at NT exegesis, while others (such as Classics departments, Religion, ect.) have a full two years of grammar (though you will usually pick up an intermediate primary text to read in your second year). That said, I'm sure many students with an intensive year of (NT) Greek are well suited to read NT passages. However, I doubt their ability to engage critically with more difficult Attic literature.

As for Hebrew, my first year was purely grammar (with supplemental readings from the MT). The first semester of the second year was mixed between grammar and reading prose (We read through Ruth, for instance), and the second semester was strictly poetry (with no real grammatical lessons, just review when applicable). This seems to be more or less the standard practice for Hebrew students (1 year intro, .5 prose, .5 poetry). Thus, you might say our second year was an 'exegesis course' of sorts, which may be similar enough to the types of exegesis courses offered by Fuller.

In short, I wouldn't stress too much about it. Fuller is a well-known and respected institution in bible, and thus you will likely be prepared to approach said texts even with only a 1-1.5 year of introductory grammar. You will pick up any additional grammar in these more advanced courses.


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